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Raffles Bali - Galungan and Kuningan: Celebrating the Triumph of Good over Evil
April 4th 2023

Galungan and Kuningan: Celebrating the Triumph of Good over Evil

Bali, the Island of the Gods, is not only known for its stunning beaches, lush green landscapes, and vibrant culture, but also for its rich spiritual heritage. One of the most important and celebrated religious events in Bali is Galungan and Kuningan, a 10-day festival that takes place twice a year, according to the Balinese lunar calendar.

Galungan marks the beginning of a new spiritual cycle, where the Balinese Hindus believe that the ancestral spirits return to earth to visit their descendants. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the triumph of dharma (righteousness) over adharma (unrighteousness). Kuningan, on the other hand, is the final day of the festival, when the ancestral spirits return to the heavens.

The preparations for Galungan and Kuningan start weeks before the actual event. Balinese families clean their homes, prepare offerings, and make elaborate decorations called penjor, made of bamboo poles adorned with rice, fruit, and flowers, that are installed outside their homes. Streets and temples are also decorated with colorful flags and offerings, creating a festive and joyful atmosphere all over the island.

On the day of Galungan, the Balinese Hindus visit their family temples and offer prayers and offerings to their ancestors, asking for blessings and guidance. It is a time for families to gather and reunite, sharing traditional dishes such as lawar, a spicy vegetable salad, and babi guling, a roasted suckling pig, with their loved ones.

The following days are spent visiting other temples, meeting friends, and enjoying the festive mood that surrounds the island. The atmosphere is electric, with traditional music, dance performances, and processions filling the streets. Tourists are welcome to observe the festivities, as long as they show respect for the Balinese culture and traditions.

The highlight of the Galungan festival is on the seventh day, when the Balinese Hindus celebrate the victory of dharma over adharma by visiting the temple and participating in a special ceremony called penjor. In this ceremony, the Balinese offer a special form of penjor to the gods and ancestors, expressing their gratitude and respect for the blessings they have received.

Kuningan, the final day of the festival, is equally important. On this day, the Balinese Hindus visit the temple again, offering prayers and offerings to their ancestors as they leave for the heavens. It is a time to say goodbye and thank you to their loved ones who have returned to the spirit world.

In conclusion, Galungan and Kuningan are not only religious festivals but also an important cultural event in Bali. It is a time for Balinese Hindus to reconnect with their spiritual roots, celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and reunite with their families and friends. The festivities bring a unique and joyful energy to the island, making it an unforgettable experience for both locals and tourists. If you have the chance to visit Bali during Galungan and Kuningan, don’t miss the opportunity to witness this beautiful celebration of life, faith, and community.